15 Effective Foam Roller Exercises To Improve Your Flexibility March 16, 2017

Feeling sore after a busy day at work or after working out? Longing for a full body massage that will relax your shoulders, neck, back, and calves? Worry no more, because your personal massage therapist is here! The versatile, portable, and light foam roller.

Foam roller exercise is the best way to relax and loosen your tight muscles. It has rightly been compared to sports massage therapy as it relieves muscle pain that occurs due to muscle wear and tear and inflammation. In this article, we list 15 best foam roller exercises to improve your flexibility, boost recovery, improve circulation, and reduce muscle and joint pain. Sounds like the solution to all your body ache problems? Yes, it is! Let’s begin.

1. Calves

Calves

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Pain in the calf muscles can hinder your movements while walking, standing, and/or running. Sore calf muscles can also affect your daily activities. So, don’t neglect that pain. Relax your calf muscles with the help of a foam roller. This is one of the best foam roller exercises for calves. Here’s how to do it.

Steps
  1. Place the roller foam underneath your calves.
  2. Place your hands beside your hips.
  3. Now, raise your hips from the floor with the foam roller underneath your calves.
  4. Slowly roll forward and backward to move the roller from below your knees to the starting point of your ankles.
  5. Repeat this 10 times.
Tip

To make it more intense, you can move your feet in and out as you roll forward and backward. This will help improve blood circulation.

2. Shins

Shins

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A painful and injured shin can interrupt your sleep. Moreover, you will find it difficult to climb the stairs, do yoga, or even fold your legs. Before it gets worse, roll your shins on the rolling foam to relax and accelerate the healing. Here are the steps to do it correctly.

Steps

1. Place the rolling foam under your shin (just below the knee).
2. Place your hands in front of your shoulder on the mat and assume the Cat Pose.
3. Use your core and pelvic muscles to roll the rolling foam backward and forward (from the tips of your feet to just below your knees).
4. Repeat this 10 times.

Tip

Do not roll the foam onto your knees as it may injure them.

3. Thighs (Quadriceps)

Thighs

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If you workout excessively, your thigh muscles will become tight. When this prevails for a long period, it can give rise to thigh muscle pain. Running, jogging, dancing, sitting down, and even walking can be painful. A rolling foam can help relax your quadriceps and release the tension. Here’s how to do it.

Steps
  1. Lie down on your stomach and keep the rolling foam underneath your thighs.
  2. Bend your elbows and lift your upper body with your forearms.
  3. Now, move the rolling foam from down your pelvis to just above your knees.
  4. Repeat this 10 times.
Tip

To increase the intensity, do this exercise one leg at a time. Fold one leg and repeat the steps mentioned above with the other leg.

4. Outer Thighs (Iliotibial Band)

Outer-Thighs

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A constant ache from your hips, down your pelvic area, till your knees can be the result of a constricted Iliotibial band. It may be due to an injury during hiking, cycling, or running. Try this easy rolling foam exercise at home to relax your outer thigh muscles. Here’s how you should do it.

Steps
  1. Place the rolling foam just below your right pelvis.
  2. Cross your left leg over the right leg.
  3. Support your upper body with your right arm.
  4. Roll the rolling foam from below your pelvic area to just above your knee.
  5. Do this 10 times.
Tip

To increase the intensity, stack your legs. Make sure you keep your balance.

5. Inner Thighs (Adductors)

Inner-Thighs

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Before or after running, jogging or a sprint, it is always good to relax your inner thigh muscles by doing this exercise. Here’s how you can do it.

Steps
  1. Lie down on your left and support your body with the elbows.
  2. Bend your right knee and extend the leg.
  3. Place the rolling foam under your extended leg near the groin area.
  4. Roll your body to the right and come back to your original position again.
  5. Do this 10 times.
  6. Repeat this with the left leg.
Tip

Move your extended leg’s foot up and down to increase circulation.

6. Hamstrings

Hamstrings

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A painful hamstring has got to be one of the worst things you can experience while working out. This exercise will provide relief for sure.

Steps
  1. Sit erect with your legs extended.
  2. Place the foam roller under your thighs, right where your butt ends.
  3. It is as if you are sitting on the roller.
  4. Support your weight on your hands and keep your legs straight.
  5. Make sure your legs do not touch the floor.
  6. Roll back and forth from where your butt ends to the point your knees start.
  7. Keep your legs straight throughout.
  8. Repeat this 10 times.
Tip

Point your palms outwards to balance your body.

7. Hamstrings And Glutes

Hamstrings-And-Glutes

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Here comes one of the most effective foam roller exercises for lower back pain relief. Relaxing both your glutes and hamstrings using a rolling foam will relieve your lower backache and sore muscles. Follow the steps given below to get relief and go about your routine without any roadblocks.

Steps
  1. Sit erect with your legs extended.
  2. Put the foam roller under your thighs right where your butt ends, as if you are sitting on the roller.
  3. Support your weight on your hands. Keep your legs straight and ensure they do not touch the floor.
  4. Roll back and forth from the point your knees start till your buttocks.
  5. Keep your legs straight throughout.
  6. Repeat 10 times.
Tip

As you roll forward and backward, move your feet outward and inward to improve circulation.

8. Glutes

Glutes

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The glutes play a major role in all our movements. When they are overworked, we experience stiffness while sitting down and/or standing up. Here’s how you can relax your glutes using a rolling foam.

Steps
  1. Sit on the roller with your hands and feet on the floor.
  2. Now, lift your left leg and place the left ankle over the right thigh.
  3. Support your weight on your hands and one foot.
  4. Roll your butt back and forth on the roller from where it starts to where it ends.
  5. Repeat with the other leg.
Tip

As you roll forward and backward, move your feet outward and inward to improve circulation. You can also stack up your legs to increase the intensity of the exercise.

9. Latissimus Dorsi

Latissimus-Dorsi

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Sometimes, you might experience a tightness when you raise your arms. This can be due to gymming or even dancing. Without a proper warm-up session, you are at a risk of injuring your latissimus dorsi muscles. Follow these steps to relax the lats.

Steps
  1. Lie down on your right side and place the roller under your right armpit and rest your head on the hand.
  2. Place your left foot parallel to the floor and bend your left knee.
  3. Now, roll back and forth all over your flank by straightening and bending the left knee.
  4. Do this on the other side as well.
  5. Repeat 10 times.
Tip

To increase the intensity, point the thumb of your extended arm to the ceiling.

10. Upper Back

Upper-Back

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Most of us keep hunching in front of our computers all day long. This leads to upper backache and a hunched back. A hunchback definitely does not look cool, and it can also lead to spine deformities. Here’s how you should use the rolling foam to relieve upper back pain.

Steps
  1. Lie down on your back with the rolling foam underneath your shoulder blades.
  2. Bend your knees, and lift your lower body. Come to a table position.
  3. Put your hands behind your head.
  4. Now, roll the rolling foam from your shoulder blades till your tailbone and back.
  5. Repeat this 10 times.
Tip

Look at the ceiling while doing this exercise. Trying to look at your legs may stress the spine.

11. Upper Arms

Upper-Arms

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The muscles in the upper arms tend to undergo a lot of wear and tear as we constantly use our forelimbs. Relax and repair your upper arm muscles by doing the rolling foam exercise. Here are the steps.

Steps
  1. Sit with your legs straight in front of you and the roller placed behind your back.
  2. Place your hands on the roller.
  3. Roll it from your hands to your arms as you slowly lower your back towards the floor.
  4. Roll back as you lift yourself up.
  5. Do this 10 times.
Tip

As you do the rolling exercise, make a fist as you inhale and open the fist as you exhale.

12. Neck And Shoulder

Neck-And-Shoulder

Image: Shutterstock

Sitting all day long and staring at our computers put a lot of stress on your neck and shoulders as well. Release the tension by using a rolling foam. Here’s how to do it.

Steps
  1. Position the rolling foam underneath your neck and lie down on your back.
  2. Place your hands beside your hips.
  3. Bend your knees.
  4. Now, roll up from your neck to your shoulder and roll up.
  5. Do this 10 times.
Tip

Lie down on your left and right to release some more tension from your neck.

13. Feet

Feet

Image: Shutterstock

Ever feel all the tension in your feet vanishing like magic the moment you dip them in warm water? That’s because warm water tends to relax the muscles in your feet. Well, you can get the same relief if you do the leg foam roller exercises. Here are the steps.

Steps
  1. Sit on your butt on the floor with your knees bent.
  2. Place the roller under your feet.
  3. Roll your feet on the roller by straightening and bending your knees.
  4. The movement should cover your entire foot from the toe to the heel.
  5. Do this 10 times.
Tip

You can do this while standing up as well. Roll one foot at a time.

14. Abs

Abs2

Image: Source

Doing too many push-ups, crunches, and other core exercises may cause core muscle cramps. Bending down or doing side crunches can become a challenge in that case. Worry not! You can relax your abs by using the rolling foam. Here’s how.

Steps
  1. Lie down on your abdomen.
  2. Position the rolling foam just below your bust line.
  3. Roll down till your navel and then roll up again.
  4. Do this 5-6 times.
Tip

Do not overdo it as it can hurt your visceral organs.

15. Wrist

Wrist

Image: Shutterstock

Typing away all day long in the office or at school can lead to a sore wrist. It is a good idea to relax your wrist at periodic intervals by using the rolling foam. Here is how to do it.

Steps
  1. Come to a table position.
  2. Place your rolling foam beneath your wrists.
  3. Roll upward and downward.
  4. Do this 10 times.
Tip

Make a fist as you inhale and open the fist as you exhale to improve circulation.

So, there you have it – 15 foam rolling exercises. These exercises will benefit you in many ways. Take a look!

Benefits Of Foam Roller Exercises

  • The foam roller gives the benefits of a sports massage. It uses deep compression to break up tight muscles and works out the kinks and knots in them.
  • Foam rolling improves blood circulation and reduces inflammation.
  • It also reduces the development of scar tissue and joint stress.
  • You can do it anytime you feel like – before or after a workout, while watching TV, or just before going to sleep.
  • Some people think that foam rolling is a post-workout exercise. But, that is a wrong assumption. You should be doing some rolling before you start your workout too. Foam rolling loosens up your muscles and
  • improves flexibility, which allow you to do other exercises more effectively.

Things To Remember

  • Do not roll your organs – it can lead to injuries.
  • Do not roll your joints or bones.
  • Do not hold your breath during rolling. Breathe deeply and relax.
  • Make sure the roller stays under your muscles all the time.

By doing these recommended exercises, you will definitely feel more relaxed, sleep better, and be able to concentrate on your work. So, put an end to all your body aches and live your life to the fullest.

Cheers!

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Charushila is an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition and a full-time contributor to Diet & Weight Loss at Stylecraze. She believes that food has healing powers and eating good food is the best way to lose weight. A binge eater-turned-fitness enthusiast, Charushila likes to share her knowledge and experience with the world. When she is not working, she loves to cook healthy food, watch movies, travel, workout, and read Bengali literature.